Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Taste of Blood.

I’m late Blogging


– I had to get up early, get everything done, drive to West Mid for an injection and a blood test ( I suspect that the MDU is actually a secret Vampire Bar where all the blood samples go into 'exotic' cocktails for the midnight hour), then back to Tesco’s to do the shopping amongst hordes of sugar-frenzied horror-zombie kids, by which time I wasn’t at all well.

Got home to find the casserole meat use-by date was too soon so had to cook that before doing lunch and then collapsing in front of my computer. 

Still this was a very welcome email in my inbox yesterday, it cheered me up no end. Except of course, Hunt has already indicated that he will now change the law to allow him to do just what he wants.

Even before that, the new plans have been announced for the closure of A and E’s at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals and the downgrading of those at Charing Cross and Ealing.

Big fights to follow.

But for now;



Robin Priestley - 38 Degrees <> 

38 Degrees

Dear friend,


Great news just in. Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has been beaten in court ... AGAIN!


In August, a judge ruled that Hunt had acted illegally by deciding to cut A&E and maternity services at Lewisham hospital. Hunt appealed the decision, and today he lost again. The court of appeal ruled that he does not have the power to implement cuts at the successful hospital. [1]


It’s the result we’d all been hoping for, and is wonderful news for the people of Lewisham and the 38 Degrees members who chipped in to help fund the legal challenge.


 When the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign decided to take Jeremy Hunt to court, thousands of us from all across the UK stepped in to help. Together, chipping in whatever we could afford, we raised the £20,000 they needed to launch their legal challenge. [2]


This isn’t just great news for Lewisham though, it’ll show Hunt he can’t break the law and get away with it. If he’d have got away with cutting services here, then no hospital would have been safe.


 Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Group said: "We are absolutely delighted with the Court of Appeal's decision today. It confirms what the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign has been arguing from the start - that the Secretary of State did not have the legal power to close and downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital."


"This expensive waste of time for the government should serve as a wake up call that they cannot ride roughshod over the needs of the people.” [3]


So lets make sure we remember the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign’s victory and everyone who’s given a helping hand along the way. This is an exciting day for our campaign to save our NHS. And while the battle’s not over yet, it’s important to celebrate the victories we have.


It’s moments like this that make it even more important that we stop the government from silencing ordinary people with the gagging law. It reminds us of the important role that campaign groups and charities play, keeping the government in check and campaigning on issues that are important. That's why we're so focussed on defeating it! [4]


But we’re still keeping you under observation Jeremy!


 Thank you for everything you do


 Robin, Blanche, Ian and the 38 Degrees team



 PS: Why not forward this email to your friends, it’s great to spread the good news. Today’s victory shows that people power works, and that’s an incredibly important story to tell.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Accident and Emergency times at St. Peter's Hospital, Chertsey: The Summer crisis







When St. Peter’s Hospital ‘lost’ the recording of the meeting I had with the clinician from Accident and Emergency, I got annoyed. When I get annoyed I like to get my own back – and how did I do that?

I took a good hard look at the NHS statistics for the second quarter of the year.

Hospitals have to admit or discharge patients within 4 hours in 95 % of cases. It used to be 98% under Labour but the conservative/Libdem Coalition reduced it to make life easier for the hospitals.

In the winter, it’s busier at A and E and the statistics get worse. So Quarter 2, which is July to October, should have gone well and remember they already failed in the first Quarter which was springtime.

So, how did they do this time?

They failed again with only 94-1% of patients at St. Peter’s dealt with in time. If you include the Ashford drop in centre (and why would you as these aren’t emergencies – I went there three times to have my dressing changed) it went up to 94-9% - they still failed.

If you count up the number of poor souls who spent more than 4 hours but less than 12 it was 332.

In case you are feeling sympathetic to the hospital, don’t. The A and E gets up to all kind of tricks to try and keep these stats above 95 % - you get shoved in a corridor on a ward rather than left in A and E, you don’t get admitted to A and E too soon to put off the clock running. I could go on and on.

If this is summer – what will winter be like?

Well I took a look at the first week of the next Quarter – it’s getting worse! I’m keeping that back for another day.

Now wouldn’t it have been better to just have sent me the recording in the first place?

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Down the Bus Garage.


No music for five days!

No Northern Soul in Friday night, no Blues Band on Saturday and now no Monday Jazz Club.

I’m reduced to watching rubbish on the TV.

This morning I was at the Doctors early in the morning and then off to hospital for an injection. This being virtuous has got to stop.
I need to find a ‘Dr Feelgood’ to put me on the right track.
Perhaps down the bus garage they can come up with a more exciting injection - or so I've heard.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.

che Says]

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Monday, 28 October 2013

Lou Reed.

Storm warning

That was pathetic – a few branches and a handful of small, rather elderly trees came down – one in our front garden. So, I got to West Middlesex Hospital fine.

One great Oak was felled – Lou Reed.

While punk in Britain was partly a rebellion against the 1960’s , in America it was different and sort of linked the two. At least it linked the alternative worlds of both times.

Famously Lou Reed once said;

“One chord is fine, Two chords is OK, three chords – that’s Jazz”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.


I found it easy to write about the mods and Northern Soul. Then I tried to write about  punk and I couldn’t do it. Too personal, too close.

Lou Reed was interviewed about a month before he died;

“I still believe in punk, I still want to blow it all up”.

For the moment that will have to do.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

This ‘help me’ is for everyone I met at MDU today.




Sunday, 27 October 2013

Storm Warning!


This is going to be fun and I’ve got my camera all ready to record it.

Since I got my thrombosis on Friday I’ve been driving into West Middlesex Hospital every day to get an injection – Monday morning that’s where I need to be at 1030 when I’m also due to have a blood test.

Except we’re waiting for a major storm with 80 mph + winds due at 3 am. It’s been forecast all week and as we’ve already had one tree down on Sunday morning I believe them.



So think of me tomorrow morning as I set out in my light little car.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Petergate - the missing Harris Tapes.

It would have had such an 80’s feel to it – ‘Patient Experience’ would have sent me their ‘Mix tape’ and I could have sent them one of mine.


I don’t know what I would have put on mine – you need a style or a theme. For my part  I wouldn’t have minded cassette or even reel to reel




But silence? This was the 'lost' recording of my meeting with the ‘clinician’ from St. Peter’s Hospital’s negligent Accident and Emergency department – those are the ones who sent me home for a week with a fractured and dislocated ankle.

I was so angry, I insisted on an apology for their having wiped the ‘tape’ clean – actually I wanted some proof in case the audio miraculously appeared at some point in the future.

Here it is, as usual I have removed the name of the offending person as I never expose people for doing their job, even if that job or the way they are doing it is nothing to be proud of.


24 October 2013


Dear Mr Harris

This letter is further to our telephone conversation today during which I apologised for the delay in sending the meeting notes to you, and for the CD recording of the meeting not being available. I apologise for the technical fault that caused the problem with the recording and unfortunately that recording is not available to be downloaded to CD. I therefore typed my handwritten meeting notes into a legible form for you.

I would like to apologise once again for the distress these events have caused and hope that the meeting clarified all the outstanding issues you wished to raise.


Yours Sincerely



So that’s alright then.

Er, no it isn’t.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Banned from dancing - it's official.

Looks like the Blog is going to have to get a bit more serious again; I spent seven hours in hospital on Friday. This time I took myself and my new friend (thrombosis) to West Middlesex Hospital’s Accident and Emergency and while it was very busy, it was a world apart from the A and E at St. Peter’s. It’s a shame I had to drive so far to get there.

I’m well and truly on the sick list now, with my wings clipped for a little while. No more dancing – I’ve been banned, which meant I missed the Hoodoo Rhythm and Soul Club night I was looking forward to. (I did ask – the ‘no’ was a bit stern - I'm going to have to use some charm on them)

Luckily on Thursday I had headed on down to The Riverside Club in Staines. To help the club out I became a member, which may not have been my wisest investment – I’m not going to get a lot of use out of it now.

However, it’s in a good cause. These folk are bringing good music to a quiet town. How about this for fun;

Danny giving his guitar a good workout;
Or Tony Hall playing some fantastic saxophone;


It was Sunset Boulevard’s usual mixture of Rock ‘n Roll, Soul (James Brown and Percy Sledge) and a little jazz.

Short of one member of the brass section, they still had their very committed drummer Johnny Higson and the bass of Bobby Patrick.

The line-up changes every time, depending on who is away on a proper paying musician’s job. They’re flexible enough to make it work.

Worked for me anyway.

It seemed like nothing could go wrong when I won a bottle of Pina Colada in the raffle – serves me right that now I can’t drink it. You’d have to have been there to get that joke.

And me? Not stopped yet, no plans on stopping either.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Petergate - Patient Experience at St. Peter's Hospital, Chertsey.

I had a phone call today – from ‘Patient Experience’ at St. Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey – those are the people who sent me home for a week last year with a dislocated and fractured ankle.

I had had a meeting on the 11th September this year (that’s right, over a year after it happened) with a clinician from Accident and Emergency. That was the first time anyone from A and E had ever spoken to me.

It was, as you can imagine a fairly heated affair. I agreed to it on condition that it was recorded and that I would be provided with a copy of the meeting within two weeks. I didn’t trust them to produce a fair version of what was said.

It was one of a long list of assurances and time limits that they didn’t keep to. After 6 weeks I wrote to ‘Patient Experience’ and here’s the letter I sent (minus any names);

Patient Experience

St. Peter’s Hospital

Guildford Road






Your Ref: xxxxxxxxxxxxx

FAO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Patient Experience Co-Ordinator


Dear Sirs,

I have just received your letter dated 15/10/13 and am surprised that it has taken you 6 weeks to write following the meeting on 11/9/13 and that you do not apologise for that delay.

It was agreed before the meeting that you would supply me with the audio recording and indeed, I made it clear that it was a condition of the meeting being recorded that I would be sent a copy.

Kindly send me a copy as agreed.

Yours Faithfully,



c/o xxxxxx




They obviously got that letter – because today (24/10/13) I got a phone call from ‘Patient Experience’ to tell me that unfortunately – “the recording didn’t work”.

I’m assured I will receive a written apology.

It’s very convenient for them that it has ‘not’ been recorded because as a result there is no independent record of what was said.

When President Richard Nixon recorded his conversations in the Oval Office, he forgot that they would reveal all his illegal conspiracies. As a result, when the tapes were finally revealed there were some big silences.

They didn’t just destroy the whole thing. So much more convenient.

It makes me more determined than ever to pursue this hospital and to ensure that real changes are made. That means clinical changes at A and E but also changes in the way that patients are treated and complaints are dealt with.

Me? I intend to go on repeating what I said, over and over again whether there is a recording or not and I’ll be publishing my version of events in the next week or so. Meanwhile this site has had the second most popular month ever and there are still 6 days to go.  That’s the best possible response to them.

Mind you, I could do with a hand from Lisa – can you bring along your guitar. I need a protest song.

So far all I’ve been able to come up with is that old Sex Pistols number ‘Liar’.



Help me sort out St Peter’s!

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Pimp my Jazz.

There’s nothing easy about choosing to play easy listening, at one extreme it’s the world of Frank Sinatra and Mel Tormé; sophisticated and cool. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the world of the Hotel bar pianist and if you’re really unlucky, the music of the hotel lift. Frankly, the level of cool goes up and down with how much modern jazz is in the mix. At its best, like Sinatra, it’s modern jazz with vocals.

Pimp my jazz

are still a new band, a six piece trying to survive in a hostile musical world. Apart from the music there’s nothing easy about their choices; if you look them up on YouTube you can see their promotional video;              


Filmed in Colnbrook it’s courageous to say the least – probably the quietest place they could have picked. As a result it doesn’t do them justice.

In real life, or at least at The Barley Mow in Shepperton on a Wednesday, they were a different band altogether. Lively, sparky and confident. Maybe they’ve got better since the video, maybe it was the venue. I’ve got a few gripes but not too many.

They like a Latin beat and opened with an instrumental; ‘St. Thomas’, the first of a number of pieces that gave their excellent saxophonist Terry Black, a chance to shine.

There was a long line of their own numbers, always a good sign and ‘Blue Moon’ brought the first of a number of fine vocalisations from their singer Lonette Charles.

 ‘Sway’, a Latin number everyone knows even if they can’t place it, was a classic with good vocals and again a great Sax.

The second set saw more standards than the first; ‘Fly me to the Moon’, ‘Valerie’ and ‘Moondance’ with Lonette growing in confidence at the end as ‘easy’ gave way to a little more lively.

If you are going to play this kind of music you have to start by being good musicians – and they were. Good guitar from Gavin Sparks who sings and composes too, bass from Terry Peake, drums from Pete Miles, with Phil Watch on keyboards and another fine guitarist whose name I’m afraid I missed.

The gripes? There’s nothing soft about this kind of music, or if there is you’ve missed the point.

Those Latin rhythms? They’ve come from the Favelas and the shanty towns and the rhythm carries with it the cries of the poor. It’s impossible to invent that pain, so artists find all kinds of ways to find that edge. For Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday it was drawing from their personal lives.

Sadé Adu, the voice of 1980’s good living and glamour?

Actually Sadé had a pretty tough time of it, struggling her way up to the top (‘When are we going to make a living?’). There was nothing easy about it for her and her songs are sharply double edged. The subjects are never safe ones; it’s a world of corrupt businessmen and gangsters and that’s why it came to sum up that desperate decade.

Without that edge, that bite; easy listening is just a lift door away. It's the difference between Cliff Richard and Duffy and comparing the ‘Pimp my Jazz’ video with Wednesday night I think they are moving in the right direction. Just a little more edge needed.
As usual you can find them on Lemonrock and facebook - catch them if you can.



Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A life of crime for me.

Ok, I’m in my criminal lair, surrounded by all the evidence of my crimes. It’s walnut shells and they are everywhere – I’ve been scrumping walnuts and now I’m eating them. It’s a family tradition every autumn, well for some of us.
We know where there is one really good tree, the owners don’t bother to pick them up and the squirrels haven’t found this one. You have never eaten anything so nice as a fresh walnut – it’s just not the same as the old ones you buy in the shops.

They are delicious anyway but then there’s an old country saying; “Poached food always tastes best”, and so it does.

In a week or so I may head off to a certain wealthy lady’s back garden to root around for chestnuts for roasting.

Mmmmmh, a life of crime for me.

#help me sort out St. Peters!

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Thanks Tassim.


That was eventful, I’ve been off air for over a day.

In that time I bought a new dongle at enormous expense, got it home only to find that network had no coverage in

Sleepy Hollow

Went into town this morning and after a long battle got a refund.

Came home and spent the afternoon trying to register an old dongle to top it up on line, except the company has been taken over and you can’t top it up anymore.

Going mad, I ended up going back into town again where I was lucky enough to speak to a real live human being; Tassim of EE in Staines who sorted it all out for me. So today’s entry is dedicated to 


Without whom none of this would have been possible. So much for the internet and the 21st century.


As for the club, how could anything compare with last week? That was so good there wasn’t anything better on in the whole of London.

This Monday night at the Red Lion, Isleworth was completely different – a debut for an exiled Canadian Mike Coates who took his Sax into the low, quiet breathy zone:

 And Steve Waterman  was playing a very bright and shiny trumpet very brightly:

 So while last week had them boppin’ in the lounge bar, tonight was more thoughtful. There were blues but they came from John Horler’s excellent and very precise piano work. He and Mike Coates pulled off a great duet on Benny Goldson’s ‘Whisper Not’.

Freddy Hubbard’s ‘Upjump spring’ was a treat but the best was last – they finished up with ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ of all things. Deconstructed by each of the players in turn, like a child taking apart an alarm clock and then looking puzzled by the pile of bits; somehow they managed to get them back together in time and it was a real joy to listen to them doing it.

Did I say it was quiet and reflective? Now I think about it Tim Wells on bass and Trevor Tomkins drumming didn’t get that much of a look in this week.

Still the best place to be in London, just as well it’s a secret, or it would have been without Tassim’s help.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Monday, 21 October 2013

All dongled out.


The other day I swore I would never do ‘courageously pathetic’.  I never said I wouldn’t do pathetic.

I’ve been doing pathetic all this week and now on top of that I’ve got a cold as well.

I don’t have a broadband connection (too boring to explain why) and I rely on a dongle. Every so often I gorge on Wi-Fi at that well-known local charity:

  Caffe nero

My dongle is now about to run out and I’ve mislaid the piece of paper on which I wrote the date and time it cuts off and which I put aside so carefully three months ago.

Also, I have gone over the monthly allowance already and I don’t know when it runs out.


On top of that ‘The Megalopolis Mobile Monopoly Inc.’ who supply me with my dongle have stopped the special one-off cut price introductory deal that I have exploited over and over and over again for some two years now.

As a result I’ve been staggering around town, going into mobile phone shops and high tech stores, so that sales assistants aged about 9 years old can be shown an ancient exhibit (me) that’s escaped from the local museum (think Night at the Smithsonian)  and is trying to understand the technological revolution that is taking place. I’m providing an educational experience.

What I can’t understand is why when I found the Dongles this Blog so desperately needs, I was unable to persuade the sales assistant to open the locked cabinet and sell them to me, because the offer has now been withdrawn. That’s not very 21st century.


The Blog fights on and so do I……at least while the data lasts.

I think I can do something…….but who knows.

Jurassic Park

    Dont be a  Dinosaur

 Help Me Sort Out St Peters.blogspot .com

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Saturday night sneaking into Shepperton.

I slunk into Shepperton in heavy disguise – it didn’t work.

The SkaSouls were playing and I wasn’t going to see them. If I’m honest I wasn’t up to it. They are the most exciting local band but I’ve been ill all week and I’ve got a cold too (awwwh). As the Jamaican saying goes; every day you go to the well, one day the bucket run dry. Yesterday, Bagshot was a blast but today the tank is empty. So, no Ska and I’m on my best behaviour.

I slunk in to The Barley Mow to see ‘Sunset Boulevard’ for some hardline Rhythm and Blues, on the strict understanding there would be no dancing. I was strictly non-combatant. Sigh.
Well, there was plenty of dancing but I was good and just watched.
I’m not doing a posting on them today, I bumped into Mickey, the Mr Music of the Riverside Club at Staines who was there to confirm a last minute booking with them. Thursday’s band cancelled (Yo! dreary rock giant covers bite the dust) and this band of mature rhythm rockers are coming down to shake the leaves on the trees. And they will.

I’m only going to say that even if it isn’t really my thing – they are well worth seeing and they usually attract a band of mates and musicians who jam a little and generally liven us all up.


This is Hayley, with one heck of a voice. Now if only I could persuade her that the music of the 60’s is the place to be rather than the 50’s. I fear that isn't gonna happen.

Come on down, Thursday will be a rockin’ night to remember. There's usually a full brass section ( and they are good), a stompin' drummer, bass and keyboards as well as whoever is passing by.
That's at The Staines Riverside Club, Laleham Road, Staines on Thursday.


I think I’ve been letting the hospital off too lightly – I’ll post about it tomorrow but I think it’s time to take the gloves off.

So, it may be time to get serious.
Oh and did I mention that SB do a mean bit of Funk too, when they get the urge?
Come on down.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Lord John and SK7.

Friday night and I was making a journey out into the middle of nowhere (Bagshot – honestly) to see a local Mod band I’ve been meaning to catch for some time;


who were playing at The Three Mariners on Bagshot High Street.  I’ve been missing them forever and I wasn’t going to this time.

But first a word from our sponsors;


Who were kind enough to put up the money for the gig - catch them at 7 High Street, Bagshot or on

Me, I can’t cope with facebook and don't use it – the page for this campaign is dead because I can’t get used to the format and I don’t even like my own page. It's an age thing.

But SK7 were celebrating reaching 3000 likes which is a real achievement and as a treat they put on this show just for us.

They are also on; and seem very reasonably priced although after they took one look at my hair they moved on fairly quickly.

Certainly there were some very glamorous ladies out to celebrate:


And if anyone tries to blackmail me with any of their photos I will deny everything. I rarely go out and how do you know I don’t have a twin brother anyway?

I also think there is a Tattoo joint connected with SK7, certainly there were some impressive ‘Tats’ on display. For a moment I was daydreaming about having the ‘Trojan Records’ logo done on my chest…… I think I may have left that a bit late.


Lord John are Paul on lead Vocals (off with a bad throat), Darren vocals, Martin lead Guitar, Steve on Bass and Jeff on drums. The name comes from the famous clothes shop which used to be on Carnaby Street and which provided the wardrobe for the 1960’s.
Their music ranged from the classic mod bands of the 60’s, through to The Jam and even a bit of 90’s Britpop and some classic soul along the way. Do you see why I drove all that way out into the middle of the country just to see them?

The pub had a clock that went backwards above the bar – it didn’t work for me. The time flew.

There was a hard and heavy R ‘n B beat running through the evening which really worked and came up from the drums and bass. It spiced up ‘Parklife’ for me – I always liked it anyway.

When I got home I caught a late night compilation of BBC clips from the 1960’s and Lord John had captured the urgency of the live performances of bands like the Small Faces and The Kinks, which is usually missing on their records.

The Jam they can’t do and that’s no criticism at all; I enjoyed ‘Start’, ‘A Town Called Malice’ and especially ‘The Butterfly Collector’- the ‘B’ side to ‘Strange Town’. It’s just that The Jam were Punks as well as Mods and that gave it an anger and an energy you can’t come up with today. I know, I was there and it won’t come back.

I do like ‘The Butterfly Collector’ and they did it well. I may get a chance to hear it again tomorrow if I’m very lucky. Written about Soo Catwoman, it was an attack on the Art-school punks of 76/77 and was a cry from the suburbs as well as the first sign that Weller was moving towards ‘The Style Council’ in sound and ideas.

I really liked Booker T’s ‘Green Onions’ – which I heard a month ago on a real Hammond organ thanks to  ‘The James Taylor Quartet’. Last night it was all lead guitar which gave the old tune a harder edge, a tougher feel.
Boom Boom’ was great as was ‘High heeled Sneakers’.

"Put on your red dress baby and your high heeled sneakers too"…….now what does that remind me of?

Martha and the Vandelas ‘Heatwave’ and the original version of ‘Tainted love’ were the Soul element. They ended with a Who medley which included ‘Won’t get Fooled again’ which was also one of the BBC clips. You know, I actually preferred it harder and faster!

You know, maybe I could still get that tattoo……..No I mustn’t.

That was a good night.  The band is on lemonrock and the dreaded facebook - you have no excuses now.




Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)